I might just like this because of it's acronym, LAPCAT. This pic is, of course, computer generated:
It's basically a hypersonic beer can (mach 5 speed and no windows).
From Inhabitat (of course):
Not too far in the future you may be able to travel that entire distance in less than 4 hours - emissions free - thanks to an amazing hypersonic hydrogen jet project called LAPCAT. LAPCAT standsfor Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologie, and is funded by the European Space Agency. This type of hypersonic jet would put the Concorde to shame with it’s speed, and the best part is that it would not be powered by the typical fossil fuels, but instead by a much greener hydrogen alternative.
That about sums it up. There is, of course, the usual criticism about where the hydrogen comes from but those are so BORING.
The concept is basically a turbine jet engine that benefits from ram-compression, which is essentially air being smashed into the intake. If you're going really, really damn fast, you don't really have to worry about injecting oxygen, you simply use the rushing air in front of you.
From the LAPCAT site:
The Space Shuttle punches through the atmosphere as quickly as possible on its way into orbit, but the LAPCAT project is focusing on an aircraft that would remain well within the Earth's atmosphere throughout its flight. Whereas the Shuttle uses the thrust of its engines to fight the force of gravity, a hypersonic vehicle would use the aerodynamic lifting force generated on its wings and fuselage. This vision of sustained hypersonic flight requires air-breathing engines, which are highly efficient because they scoop oxygen from the atmosphere rather than from an onboard tank.
My take? It's completely conceptual right now which is uselss for the time being but I really like this concept... much more than the some of the car concepts I've seen. This overcomes two big hurdles: air travel time and the green factor of the jets themselves (leaving the generation part to be answered]).
My personal take? From the comments section (me):
I hate flying and I hate looking out the window at the wing/engine/ground. Doing everything you can to shorten my trip AND helping me avoid eye contact with what is around me is the biggest favor that the airline industry could do for me. Yay for supersonic beer cans!